Improving Problem-Solving Techniques for Students in Low-Performing Schools
Robert Maurice Hobbs, Temple University, United States
Temple University . Awarded
Teachers can use culturally relevant pedagogical strategies and technologies as emerging tools to improve students' problem-solving skills. The purpose of this study was to investigate and assess the effectiveness of culturally specific computer-based instructional tasks on ninth-grade African American mathematics students. This study tried to determine if problem-solving skills and overall mathematical achievement and attitude could be improved using these computer-based tasks. A culturally specific, computer-based mathematics assessment (CD-ROM) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment were used to measure student growth in mathematical problem solving. The Modified Fennema-Sherman Attitude Scales (MFSAS) were used to measure mathematics attitude. To determine whether or not the study was practical, an initial study was conducted (Study I) to see if pre- and post-tests would accurately forecast student performance. There were three groups for Study I. The two treatment groups worked in the computer lab on a Cognitive Tutor program to improve skills in Algebra 1. They were also exposed to word problems that were based on culturally specific themes. The control group had no exposure to the computer lab or word problems with culturally specific themes. Only one significant difference occurred in Study I. One of the treatment groups' data results declined significantly on the CD-ROM. In spite of this, the group revealed a slightly more favorable attitude towards mathematics than the other two groups. This treatment group also demonstrated the largest increase in NAEP pre- and post-test data results. For Study II there were two groups. The treatment group worked on a Google Maps project where students mapped different coordinates within their neighborhoods and plotted the results. The control group received computer lab instruction similar to the treatment group but did not work on Google Maps. When scores of the control and treatment groups on the CD-ROM assessment, NAEP assessment, and MFSAS survey were compared using a pre-test/post-test design in Study II, only one significant difference occurred. The control groups' CD-ROM scores resulted in nearly a 50% decline. A correlation analysis in Study II revealed that there were weak relationships between most of the measures, suggesting scores on each measure were unrelated.
Hobbs, R.M. Improving Problem-Solving Techniques for Students in Low-Performing Schools. Ph.D. thesis, Temple University.
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